Did you know there are actually 35 different types of basil?
Basil contains antioxidant-rich volatile essential oils, which are considered hydrophobic. This means they don’t dissolve in water and are light and small enough to travel through the air and the pores within our skin. Basil’s volatile essential oils are what give the herb its distinct smell and taste, but they’re also responsible for the healing benefits of basil.
Herbs like basil contain essential oil compounds because these help the plant defend itself from predators like bugs, rodents and strains of bacteria in the soil. When we ingest these protective oils, we experience similar benefits: a boost in immunity and protection from disease.
Basil contains powerful essential oils, including eugenol, citronellol and linalool. These are enzyme-inhibiting oils that help lower inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions.
Basil is a powerful antioxidant. It’s full of polyphenolic flavonoids, which shield much of the body’s structures from cell-damaging free radicals. Free radicals can cause a lot of problems such as oxidising cholesterol in your bloodstream, where it builds up in your arteries and raises your risk of stroke and heart attack. Asthma, certain types of arthritis, and several other ailments can also be attributed to free radicals.
As a good source of magnesium, basil promotes blood flow. As a good source of vitamin A it promotes healthy eyesight, and because of eugenol (a major component of the oil produced by basil leaves) it has also been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory in the same vein as aspirin and ibuprofen.
Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K, manganese, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It’s also a good source of calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Did you also know that basil extract is also used to create perfumes, household cleaners and in dental-care products since one of the known benefits of basil is its ability to act as an anti-bacterial and anti-microbial agent that fights germs and bacteria?
Basil essential oil is commonly used in aromatherapy to treat nervous tension, mental fatigue, melancholy, migraines and depression, and – fortunately – to treat certain symptoms of these ailments, including vomiting and nausea.
So next time you go out for a nice meal at your local Italian or Thai restaurant – or pretty much anyplace where the cuisine incorporates basil into its dishes – just remember: It’s OK to feel a little less guilty about whatever it is that you eat. Basil, after all, has got your back.